Kashmir gets Rs 8 B worth investments

Friday, 24 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's invest-in-peace campaign for his state has attracted proposals worth 8 billion.

The proposals, mainly in electronics and textiles, from companies like LG Electronics and Hitachi as well as Sun Pharma, Bharat Boxes and Michelin Tyres, have come as a boost to Sayeed's efforts to turn around the battered state's economy.

"Investment in Kashmir is investment in peace," he said at an interactive meeting with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here Thursday after similar meetings with the corporate sector in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

"We have taken small measures, but the perception is changing. Militancy is not as bad as it has been made out to be. And we will be transparent in our dealings," he said.

"If we miss this opportunity, the country will miss the bus to give the healing touch to the people," he added. The task was, undoubtedly, an uphill one, he said but added that even a gesture from industrialists would be welcome.

Sudhir Seth of Sudhir Gensets said: "In the last three to four months we have been going there. The people are very friendly and there is no red tape. We are investing a few crores (10 million make a crore) for an electronics plant there."

The most passionate appeal, however, came from Sayeed's daughter and vice president of his People's Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti.

"My country needs to engage the people of my state. I am not saying dump crores of rupees. At least come and test the ground. It will help in restoring peace," she said.

Her simple plea asked the people to take a small risk and help engage Kashmiris in economic and emotional activity to ward off militancy. "This is the last opportunity. If we miss the bus today, I don't think there will be another bus."

Kashmir, the father-daughter duo said, has the capacity to generate 20,000 megawatts of hydel power. And the chief minister is in a hurry to complete the projects.

An official of Triveni group said: "Mini hydel power projects take 12 to 15 months. But we would like you to review the policy for such projects and clear the power purchase agreements as early as possible."

"Done," the chief minister said in response.

Sayeed also said, "Any talk of normalcy would be meaningless without the Kashmiri Pandits returning. We will create the atmosphere for them to come back."

"The role of Pakistan will reduce as we wean away people to the task of building Kashmir," added Mehbooba Mufti.
Source: IANS
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